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How to clean shoes in a washing machine

Find out how to get your favourite trainers looking box fresh again with this helpful how to clean guide

Can you clean your shoes in a washing machine? We’ve probably all asked the question at some point, but not all of us have given it a try. Well, yes, you can! Whether it’s a grass stain, a clump of mud or if you’ve spilt some ketchup, there’s a chance your footwear may still be brought back to life in your trusty washing machine.

Before you start

  • First off, it’s a good idea to check the care label on your shoes. As a general rule, we recommend avoiding washing shoes made from leather, suede, satin or silk as excess water can damage these materials.
  • If the care label on your shoes advises you to hand wash, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t pop them in the machine. You may still be able to get them clean using a gentle hand wash programme.

Step 1

Before those well-loved shoes go in the washing machine, scrub away any surface dirt with a bristled brush or a toothbrush and then remove the laces. This just makes the washing process easier and a lot more effective.

Step 2

To prevent the shoes and laces getting caught on the drum, put them in a mesh laundry bag to protect them. If you’ve got a laundry bag, great; if not, an empty pillowcase will do the job just as well. It can get quite noisy when your shoes are spinning round the machine, so throw in a couple of towels in the same wash to reduce the racket.

Step 3

Now you’re ready to start the wash cycle. Keep the water temperature cool to prevent the colour of your shoes fading or running – 30°c will do the trick. If your washing machine has a specialised shoe programme, there’s never been a better time to use it. Use half of the recommended detergent dose, you’re not washing a full load so won’t need too much.

...and finally

Almost there; now we need to dry those precious kicks out. Put them in a warm, dry place and stuff them with scrunched up newspaper. This is a really effective way of maintaining the shape to keep them comfortable and it also helps to absorb any excess water that’s lingering around. We wouldn’t recommend tumble drying as the high temperatures can cause the glue to melt which makes the shoes fragile and prone to breaking.